Don't Make These 10 Common Mistakes on Your Hotel Website

By Tema Frank CEO, Frank Reactions | December 07, 2014

Hotels owners worldwide are frustrated by the huge bite online booking sites like Trip Advisor and Booking.com are taking out of their profits. Only 65% of bookings are now made directly on a hotel or hotel chain's website and for many small hotels the number is probably even worse, so you can't afford to snub these sites. At the same time, you want to encourage as many people as possible to book directly with you, so you don't have to pay those nasty commissions. One way to do that is to make sure you've got a great website.1) Sadly, too many hotels are still making basic mistakes on their websites that are undermining their chances of getting customers to book with them directly. Here are some of the main ones:

1. Not Mobile-Friendly

Even sites that have already got all the basics of a good website covered are often messing up on mobile. If your website isn't set up to work well on cell phones and tablets, you are going to miss a growing chunk of business. Mobile devices are already being used for 21% of online hotel bookings, and then number is increasing quickly.2)

When it comes to something as complex as booking a hotel, a mobile site that is just a shrunken version of your regular site won't work. It has to be easy for people not only to find the information they want on a small screen, but also to click links and enter information easily. You don't want them getting frustrated by the "fat fingers" problem – pressing the wrong links by mistake because everything is bunched too close together.

Make sure your site has been tested on all the major types of devices and display sizes. Often things that work fine on your regular site, like a chat box, or a photo, may totally mess up the layout on a cell phone. It may end up covering the crucial parts of your site that they need to see and use to book. There are free sites like Screenfly ([http://quirktools.com/screenfly/][1]8(1)) that can help you test. It is good to try it on more than one test site, though, because results may vary.

With new screen sizes coming out all the time, you need to check again every few months. One of the biggest challenges facing designers now is the introduction of "smart watches". Imagine having to make your website work on a watch-sized screen.

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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.